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Lions Roar : March 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2008 45 and long lines waiting to pass through metal detectors: no bags, no umbrellas, no metal objects whatsoever. There are T-shirts, commemorative books, and souvenirs aplenty. The gymnasium/ conference hall at Emory University, where His Holiness gave a morning address to Atlanta’s Buddhist community, was filled to near capacity. You simply joined the river of people—about four thousand—and were carried along until you eventually found yourself in a seat. Of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelugpa, the one the Dalai Lama belongs to, is best known for study and analysis. While meditative experience and devotion are not absent, they’re not emphasized as strongly as in the other schools. In the view of some, this leads to dry scholasticism. Indeed, many Tibetan teach- ers speak of wild Indian mountain yogis as their principal fore- bears, whereas the Dalai Lama evokes Nalanda, the great Buddhist university of ancient India. In the talks I heard, though, the Dalai Lama married the edge and sparkle of intellect—the glistening sword of Manjushri, the bodhisattva of wisdom—with a practical sense of urgency. He encouraged students to cultivate a cool mind, not obscured by overheated passions and delusions, and a warm heart, radiating to others a motherly kind of love. The warm heart is what I expected in an introductory talk. But after giving a jovial and animated preamble for about twenty minutes in English, with his voice changing pitch and intonation in modulation with his gestures and facial expressions—a con- summate yet utterly natural performer—he switched to Tibetan and deftly unpacked the following line from the Prajnaparamita in 8,000 Verses, a seminal philosophical work on the Buddhist doctrine of emptiness: “Mind is devoid of mind, for the nature of mind is clear light.” He broke this one verse into three parts. He explained that “mind is” tells us that mind, the source of pleasure and pain, and therefore suffering, is something we must attend to urgently; “devoid of mind” tells us that while we might try to treat mind as a concrete thing to be cured, there is in fact no such thing as mind to be found anywhere; and “for the nature of mind is clear light” tells us that when we see mind as insubstantial, dependent on relationships for its momentary existence, we come to know that mind is pure and pristine. “So, all finished,” he said, and let out a big laugh as he rocked back and reared up. I had been peering over the video technicians’ shoulders, watching the Dalai Lama on eight screens. At that point, PHOTOSBYDONFARBER As national leader: At the Capitol Building after receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his struggle for Tibetan freedom. MAR 42-49.indd 45 MAR 42-49.indd 45 12/19/07 2:13:04 PM 12/19/07 2:13:04 PM